Parasites claw their way into humans and pets alike. Cats are not spared. Roundworms and tapeworms are the most common internal parasites affecting the felines, and both can wreak havoc on your pet’s health. Here is an analysis of these parasites, symptoms that you should watch out for, and treatment measures that are taken. Plan a visit to the vet as soon as you detect the signs in order to get the treatment started early.
Types Of Worms That Infect Cats
Let’s delve further into this:
They attack cats of all ages, with the two most species being Toxascaris leonina and Toxocara cati. Their eggs get passed in fecal matter, and will remain viable for years. The cat can ingest the eggs directly from the environment, and will also be infected if it preys on mice or rats that have the eggs. Here, the prey will be “intermediate hosts”. Kittens can also get the worms from their mother’s milk, which is why treatment should start early: biweekly from when they are between 3 and 8 weeks old, and monthly until they attain 6 months of age. Roundworms are prevalent, with Toxocara cati alone representing 25% of infections among the USA’s cat population.
These worms damage the lining of the small intestines onto which they attach, resulting in bleeding, anemia and weight loss. Common hookworms affecting cats include Uncinaria stenocephala and Ancylostoma tubaeforme. They get into the cat’s body via ingestion, prey that are intermediate hosts, or cases where the larvae burrow directly into the cat’s body through its skin.
If you would like to read a more in depth article about hookworms in cats, please click on this link.
These are long and flat worms, known for their characteristic segments. Adult worms release eggs that are passed out into the environment through fecal matter. A segment looks like a grain of rice, and one can sometimes see them on the hair that’s around the cat’s anus, in its feces, or on the bed. Common tapeworms infecting cats include Dipylidium caninum— which can get to cats through infected fleas or fish which are intermediate hosts, and Taenia taeniaeformis. When cats feed on small rodents that have the eggs in their bodies, they also get infected with tapeworm.
Cats can also be infected by whipworms which wind up in the large intestine. However, these are not common in North America. In addition to these intestinal worms, cats also contract worms that affect other organs, including the heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis), lungworm (like Aelurostrongylus abstrusus and the Capillaria spp), plus eyeworms (Thelazia callipaeda). These are named after the sites of the body they attack.
Common Symptoms Of Worms In Cats
Weight loss and a bloated stomach
When Kitty maintains her normal diet, but still loses weight, then that could be a pointer to her sharing her nutrients with other living organisms inside her body. This is a cause for concern, especially if you also observe that your pet has a distended stomach.
Fur loses its luster
Check out the condition of your pet’s fur. Has it lost its usual luster, and begun becoming coarse and rough regardless of your efforts to comb it? Then this could point to worms in the cat, especially if it occurs simultaneously with the bloated stomach.
Changing bowel habits
A sudden change in bowel movements usually happens during the early stages of diarrhea. While it may not necessarily be caused by worms, they are still a likely candidate, and it’s thus important to have your pet checked out.
Any unusual behavior by your pet will warrant further investigation. However, two are particularly related to the presence of worms in cats: lethargy, where the cat lacks energy and appears to have lost interest in things that would previously get them all up and excited; and your pet dragging himself along the floor. Luna drags his bottom on the carpet and floor because the worms will be irritating him.
Sighting actual worms
If worms show up in the cat’s stool, you see them on the pet’s bedding or sticking out around the anus of the cat, then you should already be on the phone booking an appointment with the vet.
Worming: Protecting Your Cat From The Pesky Parasites
Taking preventive medication will save your Kitty from the agony that comes with being infected by worms. Worming is needed even when you haven’t noticed any signs of infection. It will kill any parasites which are present, and also prevent cases of reinfection.
You can start your kitten on an active monthly treatment from when they are six weeks of age, especially against tapeworms. For adults, this can be done every 2-6 months. Get in touch with your vet for a recommendation of the optimal schedule to use for your particular cat.
Maintaining good hygiene practices is important, especially with kids around. The little ones tend to share food plates with the pet. Dissuade them from this, and also insist on them washing their hands after playing with the cat. As long as the worming products are provided regularly, then risks will be minimized.
There are numerous modes of treatment, and these will depend on the diagnosis made by the vet. These include tablets, pastes, powders and spot-on treatments. To keep up with the dosage is important, and you can set up calendar reminders to ensure that you don’t skip a treatment.